Almost every learning management system (LMS) software vendor website you visit will have a blog, and the articles you find there are often very useful and informative for anyone working as an eLearning professional. Many of those articles are also serving a marketing purpose for the LMS product the company offers, which is fine, but it also understandably paints a very positive picture of what an LMS can do for a company. As you take in more and more of these articles, you begin to get the picture that any given LMS is the magic bullet that will not only greatly improve your company’s learning, training, and development programs, but will single-handedly save your company from what would otherwise be its sure demise if you dare to proceed in business without this or another LMS. It’s worth remembering that while an LMS can do lots of great things for you, and they are getting better and better all the time, they are not the be-all-end-all determining your company’s fate.
Here are three things learning management systems cannot do for you now and will probably never be able to do for you:
Things Learning Management Systems Cannot Do: Align Learning to Business Goals
Smart as your LMS might be, it does not have the ability to know your company’s business goals. Why is this important? Your eLearning department or staff won’t last long unless your programs and content are tailored to support the organizational objectives that have been established and prioritized. Making that connection between learning programs and company goals is up to you, not your LMS. There is a whole series of conversations that have to take place to make this happen. First, the company has to decide what its business goals will be. After those are established, then the company must assess whether or not the relevant employees have the knowledge and skills needed to accomplish the goals. If this assessment shows that there are gaps, then the learning team or department will need to figure out what training and learning content must be developed in order to get the workforce up to speed to accomplish the business goals. This process is one of basically being proactive in identifying the performance gaps early on that could stand in the way of accomplishing the business goals. These are all things learning management systems cannot do for you.
Things Learning Management Systems Cannot Do: Create Learning Objectives
When it’s time to create learning content, one of the first things that should happen is putting together the learning objectives – what it is that you need participants to actually know or be able to do after they have engaged with the learning content. These are best developed using the SMART framework, making sure each learning objective is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Utilizing the SMART framework for setting learning objectives will naturally lead to crafting much better learning assessment tools to measure the learning that has taken place. While your LMS has an important part to play in facilitating the implementation of the tools you’ll use to evaluate the effectiveness of the learning programs you develop, creating those learning objectives is one of the things learning management systems cannot do for you. There’s no short-cut for putting the right amount of time and effort into creating solid learning objectives.
Things Learning Management Systems Cannot Do: Author Content
Your learning content doesn’t just magically appear in the LMS. That content has to be created, and it begins with writing. Yes, video is all the rage, but even video learning content starts with writing, whether it’s a full script or at least a storyboard of what the video will contain. Nothing kills effective learning quicker than dull, lifeless writing. I’ve written before about the importance of great writing for learning and some of the principles that will help. Check out these articles:
- Writing for eLearning, Part I: Concise and Compelling
- Writing for eLearning, Part II: Clarity
- Writing for eLearning, Part III: 6 Tactical Tips
But the writing is just one aspect of authoring your learning content. There’s all the graphic design, video production, audio engineering and more that goes into authoring compelling content that will keep your learners engaged and motivated to complete learning courses and modules.
LMS providers are constantly finding new ways to improve their learning platforms with better features and functionality, but the three things learning management systems cannot do outlined above are not and probably never will be among them. Think of it as job security for eLearning professionals!